Teaching during the 2020 Election?

This resource is part of our Election 2020 collection, designed to help you teach about voting rights, media literacy, and civic participation, in remote and in-person settings.

View all Election 2020 Resources

Notice: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Facing History and Ourselves library service has been impacted. The Facing History lending library is currently unable to fulfill orders. We are very sorry for the inconvenience. We look forward to restoring service as soon as we are safely able to do so.

In the meantime, we have a lot of great digital content and hundreds of streaming educational videos. Please email us at library@facinghistory.org if you need recommendations for specific material.

Fostering Civil Discourse: How Do We Talk About Issues That Matter?

Fostering Civil Discourse: How Do We Talk About Issues That Matter?

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing educators to adapt to unprecedented shifts in how they interact with students, all while the United States continues to grapple with ongoing issues around race, policing, voting rights, and more. Students develop knowledge, skills, and informed civic responsibility when they are invited into conversations that are emotionally engaging, intellectually challenging, and relevant to their own lives. Engaging in civil discourse means bringing your mind, heart, and conscience to reflective conversations on topics that matter, in ways that allow you to extend your understanding in dialogue with others. It does not mean prioritizing politeness or comfort over getting to the heart of the matter.

This PDF resource was originally published in 2016 under the title Fostering Civil Discourse: A Guide for Classroom Conversations. Read our blog post to learn more about why we decided to update this guide in 2020.

The ideas and tools in this updated version of Fostering Civil Discourse: How Do We Talk About Issues That Matter? are designed to help you prepare your students to engage in civil discourse, whether you are teaching in-person, remotely, or transitioning between the two.

Get More Resources and Strategies for Remote Learning

View our resources for supporting teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related Content

A Guide for Supporting Remote Student Book Clubs

Launch a remote book club that builds connectedness, fosters empathy, and provides opportunities for student-driven learning with the help of these resources.

Democracy & Civic Engagement

American Creed: A Living Room Conversation: Mark Meckler and Joan Blades, Tea Party and MoveOn

In this clip from American Creed, Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and Joan Blades, co-founder of Moveon.org, engage in a conversation with the goal of fostering understanding through civil discourse.

Democracy & Civic Engagement

Working Together to Realize Our Shared Ideals

Students use a strategy that promotes active listening and intellectual engagement to discuss film clips featuring baseball manager Joe Maddon and civic entrepreneur Eric Liu.

Democracy & Civic Engagement

Exploring Individual and American Identity

Students identify the ideals and values we share in common as a nation by watching a video clip from States Marine Corps veteran Tegan Griffith and analyzing a reading.

Search Our Global Collection

Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.